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Elgin Symphony Orchestra names Chad Goodman its fifth Music Director

Elgin Symphony Orchestra names Chad Goodman its fifth Music Director


Chad Goodman has been named music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Goodman was selected following a two-year international search that included a pool of nearly 100 applicants. He is the fifth music director for the award-winning Symphony and will preside over the ESO’s 74th season, which opens Oct. 7.

“We are thrilled to welcome Chad to the ESO. He brings a wealth of experience and talent to the ESO along with an infectious energy and enthusiasm that we look forward to sharing with the community,” said Marc Thayer, CEO of the Symphony.

Goodman most recently was the conducting fellow of the New World Symphony, a post he held from 2019 – May 2023, where he received accolades for his energized and innovative performances. Since 2018, he has served as an assistant conductor to the San Francisco Symphony, working with Michael Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Manfred Honeck, Daniel Harding, Pablo Heras-Casado, Simone Young, and James Gaffigan, among others. He has recently guest conducted the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, and has previously served as conducting fellow of Festival Napa Valley and the Atlantic Music Festival. Chad holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Music degree from San Francisco State University. His mentors include Michael Tilson Thomas and Alasdair Neale.

Following a visit to the ESO in the fall of 2022, Goodman was quickly captivated by the ESO and the Elgin community, and looked forward with anticipation to his guest appearance on the podium for the ESO’s “Rhapsody in Blue” concert on May 6 and 7, 2023.

“I was immediately charmed by the energy and passion that came from the Elgin community,” Goodman said. "The members of the ESO treat one another like family. There’s a true sense of camaraderie and it’s clear that everyone is there to push themselves to the highest level of music making.”

Goodman’s collaborative spirit has been evident in his past projects, including the Elevate Ensemble, which he founded and served as artistic director. Elevate collaborated with photographers, videographers, poets, and culinary artists, bringing new music and vibrant multi-genre experiences to unique venues.

In addition to his performing career, Goodman leads workshops that teach musicians business and entrepreneurial skills to help them successfully navigate the music world. His book, “You Earned a Music Degree. Now What?” was published in 2022.

In his first season with the ESO, Goodman will lead five of the Symphony’s classics concerts, and several special events, including: 

Richard Strauss’ poignant Four Last Songs on October 7 and 8, featuring Grammy Award-winning opera soprano Christine Brewer, and Rachmaninoff’s romantic Symphonic Dances.

  • Brahms’ lyrical Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra, and Beethoven’s joyous Second Symphony on Nov. 4 and 5.
  • The ESO’s annual Holiday Spectacular concerts on Dec. 9 and 10.
  • Mozart’s dazzling Violin Concerto No. 4 with ESO Concertmaster Isabella Lippi as soloist, and Prokofiev’s monumental Symphony No. 5 on March 2 and 3, 2024. 
  • Robert Schumann’s romantic Piano Concerto featuring Orli Shaham, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2, “Ukrainian”, on April 6 and 7, 2024.
  • Beethoven’s immortal ode to brotherhood, the 9th Symphony, on May 4 and 5, 2024.

“I am eager to build upon the incredible work the ESO has done for decades within the community,” Goodman said. “I want everyone, from first-time concertgoers to seasoned classical musical lovers, to feel not only welcomed but energized and inspired by their orchestra. I envision a future where every ESO event is treated as a celebration of the community!”

The search committee, chaired by ESO Board member Martin Nobs, consisted of four board members, four ESO musicians, the ESO’s vice president of artistic planning and operations, and the ESO’s CEO. 

“I am very gratified that that we were able to make a unanimous decision among all members of the search committee to select our new music director. The search committee, representing musicians, staff, and members of the board, reached this decision after a very rigorous search process … eventually picking seven candidates that were invited as guest conductors to lead the orchestra during our most recent season and one additional candidate from the previous season,” Nobs said. “Chad has the experience and passion to lead the Elgin Symphony orchestra and support the organization and stakeholders into an exciting future.”


About the Elgin Symphony Orchestra
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra has a long history of highlighting the works of world-renowned conductors, composers, and musicians, and of promoting the advancement of women in the arts. Founded in 1950 as a community orchestra, the ESO became a professional ensemble in 1985, in good part due to the leadership of the late Margaret Hillis, who was music director at the ESO from 1971-1985. Hillis was one of the first females to break through the male-dominated world of conducting and is credited with being the impetus behind the creation of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra Association, the formation of the ESO’s volunteer core – the Elgin Symphony League, and the start of the ESO’s commitment to music education and enrichment for youth.

Today, the ESO continues to draw its creativity and artistry from the Elgin area and gives back to the community through its Adopt-a-School program that provides supplemental music education and in-school performances to local schools; Musicians Care program that brings live music performances to local hospitals, hospices and retirement homes; informational Listeners Club events and other free programs at public libraries; In Harmony Program in places of worship; Ainsworth Concerts for Youth; free tickets for youth under 18; open rehearsals; and free community concerts throughout the region.

The ESO has been named Orchestra of the Year four times by the Illinois Council of Orchestras (1988, 1999, 2005 and 2016).

The ESO is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Season sponsors include Willow Springs Charitable Fund, OTTO Engineering, Seigle Foundation, The Pepper Family Foundation, John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc., and the S.E. (Stu) Ainsworth Family. Additional operating support is provided, in part, by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

To learn more or to support the ESO, visit

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